Are you planning a river cruise in Europe on your upcoming holiday? Before you book your flights, know that some months are better for river cruising than others. You need to consider factors like water level and temperature. By choosing the right month to cruise, you can save money. Plus, you’ll likely have a better experience when the weather and crowd levels are optimal.
Ready to plan your river cruise in Europe? Keep reading to learn which months are best for sailing some of Europe’s most popular rivers.
The Danube River
The Danube River stretches from Germany all the way to the Black Sea. You can take incredible day trips to Vienna, Budapest, Bucharest, Rousse, and so many more cities.
This river is one of the most popular routes for beginner river cruisers. It gives passengers access to UNESCO World Heritage Sites, biking trails, museums, wineries and breweries, capital cities, small villages, and so much more.
Like other European rivers, summer is the busiest month with thousands of tourists booking cruises all season. This is what we call peak season. You’ll have more access to bookings in the fall and spring, or what we call shoulder season. Cruises taking place from September to December are more affordable due to the decreased demand. The weather is generally more stable in these months and less rainy than the springtime.
If you’re a fan of holiday festivities, make sure you look into Danube Christmas Market cruises. You don’t want to miss Budapest’s Christmas markets.
However, there’s nothing like seeing flowers in bloom during the spring. Spring temperatures might also be more bearable than the heat of the summer. In summer of 2019, Europe had a heatwave where many cities hit record high temperatures. In general, shoulder seasons are best for cruising the Danube.
The Rhine River
The Rhine River is another popular choice for travelers looking to experience a river cruise for the first time. Starting in the Netherlands, the Rhine passes through Germany, Switzerland, and ends in France.
We recommend being aware of the water levels of The Rhine before booking. In the spring, high water levels can be unpredictable.
The safest and most affordable months for cruising the Rhine are September and October, though you do run the risk of cruising in low water. The weather is dry and still warm from summer.
Cruisers especially enjoy the excursions available on the Rhine. They include the World Heritage Site at Kinderdijk as well as Marksburg Castle in Koblenz.
Europe’s most festive season, Christmas, also looks stunning from the Rhine. Make sure you take a day trip to Strasbourg, the capital of Noel. It’s home to France’s largest Christmas market.
The Seine River
Cruisers looking for scenic landscapes and breathtaking views should look no further than the Seine. This river stretches from the English Channel to Paris and beyond.
The list of excursions on The Seine is extensive. Guests can venture to many famed destinations including Claude Monet’s gardens, the Eiffel Tower, and Honfleur.
The river is busiest in the summer months when the weather is hot and clear, although it isn’t always the most cost-effective.
Unlike other European rivers, there is generally less worry about the Seine’s water levels.
You’ll find better deals from March to May and September to December. Holiday cruises are becoming popular as you can experience Paris during Christmas festivities.
Interested in Booking a River Cruise in Europe?
Each river cruise in Europe is unique and brings its own highlights. Some offer tremendous city views; others focus on more rural and remote landscapes.
Furthermore, some rivers are better suited to beginner cruisers. Before booking a cruise, it’s best to do your research about the best time of year to go.
We provide customized recommendations to travelers interested in European river cruises based on their budgets, travel preferences, and bucket lists. Get your personalized cruise match by visiting our Recommendations page.
interested in knowing more about river cruise flexibility. Such as going early or staying after to visit other sites not on the planned route. For example visiting Berlin and Dresden that are not on the Danube or Rhine tours
Andrew Brak says
Please note the Rhine river begins in Switzerland and empties in the North Sea in the Netherlands.